Chapter 9: The Dual-Core Era (2)
New Year’s Eve. A day for bidding farewell to the old, and welcoming the new.
The doors to Excellent Era Internet Café were propped open, and the owner Tao Xuan was busying himself running in and out. Every year, on the last day of the year, Tao Xuan had the workers take off, and then personally cleaned out the Internet café, ruthlessly throwing out all the trash and other now-useless items that had accumulated over the course of the year. It was, after all, a day for getting rid of the old.
But everyone knew that Tao Xuan was no longer just the small owner of an Internet café. The Season 1 champions, Team Excellent Era, were formed thanks to his initial investment, and now he was the boss of a successful team – quite an important man indeed.
However, this new identity hadn’t erased his old habits. On New Year’s Eve, he still came to personally organize his Internet café.
“Brother Tao.” As Tao Xuan was hurrying in and out, he suddenly heard someone call his name. He turned and saw Ye Qiu and Su Mucheng standing outside the café doors.
“It’s you guys!” Tao Xuan welcomed them in with a wide smile. These two were once frequent customers of his Internet café, and in a sense were part of his economic pillar. And now Ye Qiu was the core of Tao Xuan’s team, a crucial player in winning the championship for Excellent Era.
“You’re busy? Do you need help with anything?” asked Ye Qiu, rolling up his sleeves.
“No no, please don’t!” Tao Xuan quickly reached forward to stop him. “These two hands of yours are too precious, you can’t work on tasks like this. Even a small cut or a splinter would be a big problem.”
Ye Qiu was somewhat speechless. “That’s a bit much, don’t you think…”
“Better safe than sorry.” Tao Xuan was adamant that Ye Qiu stay to the side.
“Then I’ll help!” Su Mucheng, watching this stalemate, took the initiative to volunteer.
“Oh no, that’s even worse, how could I let Little Mucheng do work like this?” Tao Xuan said, quickly blocking this party as well. He was very clear on this girl’s difficult life experiences, having watched her grow up over all these years. But still, he couldn’t bear to let such a pretty girl do this hard and dirty work.
“And anyway, your hands have precious blood running through them, you need to take care of them as well!” Tao Xuan added emphatically. But the second the words left his mouth, he wished he could snatch them back – he shouldn’t have brought up this subject, it wasn’t appropriate.
“Um… I’m going to work, you guys go have fun, remember to come by for dinner!” Tao Xuan fled into the Internet Café.
Tao Xuan would never forget that name, that boy who spent his days and nights alongside Ye Qiu playing Glory in his Internet café.
The superb skills of these two boys had caught Tao Xuan’s attention. At that time, he’d still been playing Glory himself, and after joining these two experts, his gaming experience had been incredible. He’d built the Excellent Dynasty guild, which had really become something like a powerful dynasty thanks to the presence of these two experts.
As the Glory scene became more competitive, more and more matches were organized among a circle of people. But as long as Ye Qiu and Su Muqiu participated, they would always sweep the field.
In the end, when Glory finally established the “Glory Professional League,” a commercial tournament, Tao Xuan knew that true opportunity was at hand. He quickly created Team Excellent Era and applied, the most important part of which was pulling Ye Qiu and Su Muqiu into joining.
These two lovers of gaming and Glory were easily convinced, and they signed their professional contracts. But not long after that day, Su Muqiu was struck by a car, and this young life reached an end just like that.
Time continued on, as it always does. The League was established, Excellent Era became an official member, and everyone saw a happy and beautiful future.
Since that fateful day, Ye Qiu no longer had his best and strongest partner at his side.
Even so, he still swept the League.
Glory Professional League Season 1 belonged to Ye Qiu, belonged to the Battle God One Autumn Leaf.
But now, entering Season 2, the new Team Hundred Blossoms was the most eye-catching, the concept of a dual-core style drawing people’s support.
Any time this was brought up, Tao Xuan thought of Su Muqiu. If only that accident hadn’t happened, everyone would’ve known early on just what “dual-core” really meant.
Truly a shame…
As Tao Xuan reflected on these thoughts, he saw through the window Ye Qiu and Su Mucheng walking away, side by side. He was always very careful not to mention Su Muqiu in front of them, not wanting to cause them additional sorrow. After all, they were still only teenagers – children, really. And yet just now, he had been careless and let slip his regrets about Su Muqiu.
Perhaps it was all the news about this new dual-core of Hundred Blossoms that was reigniting the regret of Su Muqiu’s loss? Tao Xuan sighed, and thought.
“Where are we going?” asked Su Mucheng.
“Mm, it’s the New Year, how about we go buy some fireworks?” Ye Xiu suggested.
“I don’t know about that,” Su Mucheng said, smirking. “What if you injured your precious hands?”
Ye Xiu rolled his eyes. “It’s not that big a deal…”
Puffing herself up, Su Mucheng did a gruff imitation of Tao Xuan’s voice. “Better safe than sorry!” This earned a laugh from Ye Xiu.
At the side of the road, a child had tossed a string of fireworks onto the ground, but the clumsily-lit fuse had been extinguished by the wind, and he stood there helplessly, not knowing what to do.
Ye Xiu smiled. He pulled out a pack of cigarettes, deftly lit one, then gestured toward the child.
The child shrank back, frightened. “Little kids shouldn’t smoke,” he said, eyes wide, as though Ye Xiu were some shady criminal.
At that, Su Mucheng started cracking up, laughing so hard that she couldn’t even stand up straight. Ye Xiu huffed. “It’s to light your fireworks,” he said.
“Oh…” Finally realizing what Ye Xiu meant, the boy scurried forward to take it with a word of thanks.
Quickly, the fireworks were lit. It was still daytime, so the light and smoke weren’t particularly spectacular – they felt a little pale. Even so, the child cheered and clapped, clearly delighted by the outcome.
Su Mucheng stared at the fireworks thoughtfully. “Before, me and my brother couldn’t afford to buy fireworks, but we still wanted to play. So, he got all sorts of random materials from who knows where, saying that he was going to make some himself.”
“He was always that kind of person…” said Ye Xiu, reminiscing.
These two weren’t as fragile as Tao Xuan believed. In their daily lives, they often voluntarily brought up Su Muqiu. This was because they missed him dearly – despite any lingering grief, they wouldn’t allow themselves to forget him. Su Muqiu lived, once, and they were determined to preserve his memory.
“In the end, he actually succeeded in making some. But the fireworks kind of looked like this,” Su Mucheng gestured toward the measly, pale smoke before them. “At night.”
“His skill hadn’t reached its peak yet. Like how in Glory, he was still worse than me!” said Ye Xiu.
“Hey, how about we make our own?” Su Mucheng suggested suddenly, eyes alight with excitement.
Ye Xiu was startled. “That… seems a lot more dangerous than just buying them.”
“Not fireworks, I’m talking about paper flowers,” she said.
“You know,” Su Mucheng raised her hand, made a finger gun, and aimed at Ye Xiu’s head. “Bang!” she mimed firing, “and then it spits out paper flowers.”
“I see. Alright, let’s go!” And so the two of them walked off, side by side.